Years ago, my choice of which college to attend seemed like a great decision.
Until a few days into the first semester of freshman year. That’s when I started to hate the place. That’s also when deciding whether or not to stay seemed pretty big.
My father, a master at decision-making, offered this advice: “Imagine you decided to transfer, then live with it for three days.”
The advice was excellent. And here’s why:
1. It reduces anxiety.
If you’re like most people, making big decisions causes anxiety. That’s from having to weigh pros and cons, being afraid of making the wrong decision, regretting the choice, missing other options and more. To reduce anxiety, people often make decisions just to get them over with. That can result in bad decisions. Choosing to imagine you made the decision and living with it for 3 days is a decision. And that can lower anxiety and help you see more clearly during that 3 days.
2. It’s a deadline you control.
Many big decisions have deadlines outside your control. Applying to graduate school, accepting a promotion, considering a major move — those deadlines are often imposed by others. The 3-Day Rule is something you choose. It puts more within your control. Also, I have found living with the decision for 3 days is enough time to make big decisions with confidence.
3. It lets you “try on” the decision.
Most decisions in life require us to move ahead without the advantage of knowing what the choice will be like. The 3-Day Rule gives you 72 hours to “live” it. Imagining you have made it. With absolutely no downside other than the time you will spend considering what it feels like.
4. You have time to consult with others.
One of your most powerful resources in life is the group of friends and family who know you well. And you can consult with them even before taking the the 3 days. During and after that 3 day period, continue to talk with those advisors, sharing what it was like to have “tried on” the decision and exploring other options if you haven’t committed to a choice.
As you go through life and continue to evolve and grow as a leader and as a person, decisions can seem more important. Should you accept a higher level role? Go out on your own? If you’re already an entrepreneur, should you start a new business? Take on a partner?
The 3-Day Rule can help you make those big decisions with greater confidence and ease.
So, the next time you have a big decision to make, try the 3 Day Rule. And let me know how it turns out.